Counties with Big Ten, Big 12 Schools See Bigger Increases in Coronavirus Cases

As fall turns to winter, communities across the United States have become COVID-19 hot spots — and those that host Power Five football programs are no exception.

In fact, data analysis conducted by Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health for USA TODAY found that the counties in which Power Five schools are located have seen an even larger spike in COVID-19 cases than the nationwide average, with communities in the Big Ten and Big 12 experiencing the most dramatic increases in their seven-day averages of daily new cases per 100,000 residents.

Three Big 12 schools — Oklahoma State, Kansas and Iowa State — have seen the daily COVID-19 cases in their counties more than double from the previous week. And Payne County in Oklahoma, which the Cowboys call home, has seen a spike of 172% — more than four times the national average of 40%.

“We are in trouble,” Dr. Julie Watson, the chief medical officer for Oklahoma-based Integris Health, said in a news conference Tuesday. “Our local and state health care resources are approaching their limits. If nothing is done soon to slow the rise in cases, our hospitals will be more overwhelmed than they already are and we won’t be able to be there for all of those who need it.”

All told, 59 of the 64 counties that host Power Five schools saw an increase in their average number of daily cases from Nov. 3 to Tuesday. Collectively, the counties reported an increase of 45%.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Tom Schad, and Jim Sergent

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